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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

This Is It!: 1538

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Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii's June 2018 edition of her CD-release-a-month celebration of her sixtieth birthday introduces a new trio, called This Is It!. The group's debut recording takes its name from the Celsius melting point of iron. The group is a variation on the Satoko Fujii New Trio, a piano trio that released the excellent Spring Storm (Libra Records, 2014). The new configuration replaces bassist Todd Nicholson with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura. Fujii and drummer Takashi Itani remain. The music ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johannes Wallmann: Love Wins

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The depths to which some factions of “civil" society will sink in order to deny others their equal rights, respect, and acknowledgement is downright depressing. But the height to which love can rise and overcome is heartening, to say the least. Pianist Johannes Wallmann is better acquainted with both of those aforementioned truths than your average citizen. When he moved to Wisconsin in 2012, he had been in a legally-recognized same-sex marriage for five years. Neither Canada ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

This Is It!: 1538

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At the half-way point of Satoko Fujii's year-long celebration of her sixtieth birthday, she presents a new trio configuration--This is It!--with familiar figures. Her sixth of twelve releases for the year is titled 1538 and features her almost ubiquitous musical partner and spouse Natsuki Tamura and drummer Takashi Itani. The significance of the title lies in Fujii's wish to convey the imagery of intense heat and 1538 degrees Celsius is the temperature at which iron melts. It's safe to say ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alain Mallet: Mutt Slang

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Pianist/keyboardist Alain Mallet has been known as much for his work as a producer as for his pianistic accomplishments. Having served as a sideman for Madeleine Peyroux, Phil Woods and Paul Simon, he's also produced music by vocalists Jonatha Brooke and Grace Kelly. And his compositions have been performed by musicians as diverse as Gary Burton, Dave Samuels and Paquito D'Rivera, which gives a sense of the breadth of his musical affinities. That wide-ranging spirit is certainly the defining characteristic ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lee Konitz: Prisma

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Though Lee Konitz has played in a wide variety of settings and styles since his first professional engagement with Teddy Powell in 1945, recordings with full-blown orchestras have been few and far between. Recorded in Frankfurt in 2000, with the Brandenburg State Orchestra conducted by Christoph Campestrini, Prisma captures Konitz interpreting Gunter Buhles' concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra. Composed in four-parts, as opposed to the concerto's more traditional three-part format, Buhles's working title for the project--composed especially for Konitz--was ...

INTERVIEWS

Andreas Varady: Guitar Wizard On The Rise

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Listening to Andreas Varady play guitar, it's difficult to guess his age. Its not just the fleet fingers across the fret board, the subtle bending of notes and the dexterity. Many young players display those features. He possesses a warm tone, a mature style with free-flowing ideas that go to interesting places. His style is mature and he's a teller of stories. Mature and strong enough to impress Quincy Jones, who brought the guitarist into his management company ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

A Six-String Travelogue

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Leni Stern 3 Leni Stern Recordings 2018 If it's an exaggeration to say that Leni Stern's gone native after her life-shaping time in Senegal, it's probably not by much. 3 isn't the result of merely studying and and learning a few new forms, but an unrestrained immersion in the life and traditions of a region that's grown close to her heart. The short-ish running time still makes room for a touch of flamenco, some cross-pollination ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Pablo Ziegler Trio: Jazz Tango

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Jazz Tango--winner of the 2018 Grammy for “Best Latin Jazz Album"--is a distillation of pianist Pablo Ziegler's vision. Leading a trio of American-based Argentinians, Ziegler delivers a program that perfectly encapsulates the titular hybridized form that he knows so well. This exhilarating outing opens on Nuevo Tango patriarch Astor Piazzolla's “Michelangelo 70," a number simultaneously referencing a famed Buenos Aires tango club and the composer's year of departure for Europe. With some chromatic zest and loads of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Angelika Niescier - Christopher Tordini - Tyshawn Sorey: The Berlin Concert

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For almost twenty years, German saxophonist Angelika Niescier has been creating forward-thinking jazz that expertly straddles the line between intricate structure and freewheeling energy. Nowhere was this aesthetic vision realized more acutely than on NYC Five (Intakt Records, 2016), her quintet album co-led with pianist Florian Weber. A delightful and infectious release, it signaled Niescier's rise to prominence among the front ranks of contemporary jazz musicians, a status further solidified the following year when she won the Albert Mangelsdorff Prize, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Meg Okura: IMA IMA

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Heritage isn't merely defined by blood and DNA. It's about who we are, who we choose to become, and what we take from the past to bring to our individual present and presence. So says this most personal of albums from Meg Okura & The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble. “Ima"--the Hebrew word for “mother" and a Japanese word for “now"--stands as a three-letter summation of Okura's being with its cross-language connections and meaning. It represents her ...